Community College, Fired Professor Reach Settlement

DES MOINES, Iowa

Southwestern Community College has reached a financial settlement with a professor who was fired after telling students the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be taken literally.

Steve Bitterman taught world civilization at the Creston school. He was fired last September after students complained. Bitterman later sued for wrongful termination.

Patrick Smith, the school’s lawyer, says the financial settlement should be completed this week. He did not disclose the amount of that settlement.

Bitterman’s lawyer, Brad Schroeder, says academic freedom should have outweighed religious concerns.

“What was for him a purely objective, academic exercise in studying the religious beliefs of different western civilizations became a group of fundamentalist students taking exception when it came time for their God to be put under the microscope,” Schroeder said today.

Bitterman’s case received widespread attention. He garnered support from the American Humanist Association, which says that people who eschew organized religion can lead ethical lives and contribute to the greater good.

Bitterman taught on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in Norfolk, Va., this summer through Central Texas College’s Instructor At Sea program for sailors. He said he used the same textbook from his previous classes.

Bitterman is scheduled to join the ship again in the Persian Gulf, but has also applied to work at other community colleges.

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